The song's narrator mourns his deceased wife, beginning with him looking at a tree in their garden, remembering how "it was just a twig" on the day she planted it. This single was a US No. 1 the week of April 7, 1968.
An early version of "Honey" had been recorded by South African singer Peter Lotis in 1962. It was released as a single in 1968, becoming a Top 10 South African hit.
"Honey" was immediately and immensely popular. It sold a million copies in its first three weeks,:BG4 the fastest-selling record in the history of United Artists. It was certified gold on April 4, 1968. It was the best-selling record worldwide for 1968, more popular even than "Hey Jude".:BG8 It was a crossover hit, topping both the pop and country singles charts, one of only three songs to do so in the 1960s. The recording was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1968: Record of the Year and Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male. The song was awarded Song of the Year in 1968 by the Country Music Association.
Today the song is sometimes dismissed or disparaged, its contemporary popularity notwithstanding. It has been called "innocuous pop", "classy schlock", more "dreadful" than Pavarotti, and, hyperbolically, the "Worst Song of All Time" by a writer whose ambivalent antipathy left him "transfixed" by "one of the biggest songs of the year." In a 2011 poll Rolling Stone readers ranked "Honey" the second-worst song of the 1960s.
^"'Honey' Honey Single for UA". Billboard. April 13, 1968. Bobby Goldsboro's 'Honey' is the fastest selling single in United Artist's 10-year history... The disk has been certified by the RIAA as a million seller after only four weeks on the market.
^Christgau, Robert (November 1968). "Secular Music". Esquire. [Joe] Tex's record closes with Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey," the classiest schlock of the year and the epitome of what is called modern country.
^Leopold, Todd (April 21, 2006). "The worst song of all time". CNN.com. Archived from the original on February 6, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019. I sat transfixed in my car as it played, as if I were in the midst of an accident. The simpering melody, the tearjerking lyrics: God, how I hated it. And yet I couldn't change the station.